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Camp Zoofari: FAQs

Parent Information and FAQs

Camp Communication is by Email
Check your email for a receipt! Please be sure you are receiving email from Camp Zoofari by checking your SPAM settings in your email. If registering for someone else, be sure to forward them all emails. Camp Zoofari communicates up to the start of camp via email. If you do not receive a receipt via email, please contact our office at education@houstonzoo.org to ensure you receive communications.

What are the camp hours?
Gate 8 camp entrance opens and closes promptly at the hours below in order to begin the camp day. Our staff are not able to “hold the gate” for late arrivals.

Before and after care is not a drop-off daycare style program. We conduct on-grounds activities with the early/late campers, so Gate 8 will not be staffed outside these hours. Campers not picked up by 4:15 pm will be charged for after/care for the day at $20.

Gate 8 Access Hours

  • 7:30 – 7:45 Early Drop Off ($10)
  • 8:45 – 9:15 Camp Registration
  • 3:45 – 4:15 Camp Pick Up
  • 5:00 – 5:15 Late Pick Up ($15)

Where do I go when I arrive? 
Please bring campers to Gate 8, located down the sidewalk to the left as you face the main entrance.

The City of Houston does not open the entrance to the Lot G (parking lot closest to Gate 8) until 9AM. When arriving before 9AM, use the entrance by Miller Outdoor Theater at the back of the parking lot (Lot E). Once in the parking lot, park anywhere in lots E, F or G and enter Camp at Gate 8. Gate 8 is only opened at scheduled times listed above.

If I am arriving late? What if I need to leave early?
Gate 8 will only be open the hours above. If you are arriving to pick up or drop off your child outside of these times, use the Zoo’s main entrance. Once inside the Zoo, you must check your child in or out with staff in the Brown Education Center (BEC) office. If checking out early, please allow extra time to find parking and for your camper to return from Zoo grounds back to our building.

Where should I park?

Please visit the Parking and Directions webpage for up-to-date information on parking around the Zoo. Lots E, F, G, H and I are all open to the public to park.

The free parking lots around Houston Zoo are owned and managed by the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department and have no affiliation with Houston Zoo. They are intended for use of guests visiting Hermann Park, Miller Outdoor Theater, Centennial Gardens, Houston Zoo, and the other museums in the area.

We understand parking can be difficult, especially in the afternoon.  We are unable to offer a carpool lane as emergency vehicles must have access to the Zoo. We cannot block the road and driveway leading into the Zoo.  Because the lot is owned and managed by the City of Houston, we are unable to block or reserve any part of the parking lot for camp participants.

Please do not park in the handicapped spaces or loading zones along the curb outside Gate 8 (Red box below) unless you have a permit, as you may be ticketed or towed. Please do not park there, even if you see others parking in these zones.

City of Houston Parking Enforcement and Houston Police routinely patrol the area and write tickets to camp parents parking in these spaces when they begin blocking access to the street and driveway to emergency vehicles. Houston Zoo is not responsible for fines received.

I want my camper to be with friends. What should I do?
Because Winter Break camp is smaller than Summer camp, campers will be together frequently without the need to request friends be together. Therefore, we are not accepting friend pair-up requests during Winter Break camps.

What do I do if my child has allergies?
If your child has food allergies, please include this information when registering. We are not able to offer alternative snacks. You are welcome to provide a snack for your own child if allergies are a concern.

My child needs to take medication; how should I arrange for this?
The Houston Zoo does NOT administer medication to children, nor does it allow campers to self-medicate and does not permit medication (OTC or prescription) at camp with the exception of emergency medications (inhalers, epi-pens, etc.). Please consult a physician so medication can be administered outside of camp. To ensure a positive experience for all campers, it is IMPERATIVE that you notify us of any special needs or medical conditions your child may have. We will accommodate these needs to the best of our ability.

What should I pack for meals?
Camp Zoofari is a “high energy” activity with several hours of walking around the Zoo, so campers should eat a hearty breakfast before arrival.  We provide bagged snacks (pretzels, cookies or crackers) in the morning and afternoon.  Water is also offered throughout the day at refillable water stations in the Zoo.  We recommend bringing a reusable water bottle to keep your camper hydrated.

All campers must bring a lunch daily. Due to safety concerns, glass containers are prohibited.  Juice boxes with straws are not allowed. There is not a microwave available for use.

Some items are not recommended. Please pack clear liquids or juices only for drinking.  Please see lunch recommendations below.

Recommended:

  • Sandwich or “Lunchable”
  • Whole fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Reusable containers
  • Water or Sport Drinks
  • Clear fruit juice
  • Cereal bars
  • String cheese

Not Recommended:

  • Yogurt and “Gogurt”
  • Milk
  • Difficult to open packages
  • Soda
  • Smoothies
  • Sushi
  • Mayonnaise-based salads
  • Thick fruit/vegetable juice

Not Allowed:

  • Glass containers
  • Food that requires heating or cooking
  • Food for other campers
  • Juice boxes with a plastic straw

Can I bring snacks for the group?
Due to dietary restrictions of participants, please do not bring snacks (such as cupcakes) for your child’s class as we are unable to allow these to be shared with the group.

What does my camper do all day?
See what your campers will discover each day on our Parent Page. Visit the www.houstonzoo.org/campparent

May I enroll my child in a camp for an older age group?
Age requirements are not negotiable and are strictly enforced. Campers must fall within the specified age category on the first day of the camp session they are attending.  For Winter Break camp, we will be dividing the campers by their birthdate into smaller groups for Zoo tours and activities.

 How are campers supervised?
Campers are supervised at all times and are escorted on restroom breaks. However, our staff are not allowed to enter the restroom stalls to assist campers and must remain outside of the bathroom of the opposite gender. All campers must be able to use a public restroom without assistance. Camp Guide to camper ratios are 1:8.

What should I bring/pack?
You must bring the following:

  1. Camp shirt
  2. Close-toes shoes
  3. Reusable water bottle
  4. Lunch

You may want to also bring:

  • Weather-appropriate gear like hats, coats, rain coats, sunglasses, etc.
  • Sunscreen or bug spray. Please apply before dropping off your camper.  We are not able to apply.
  • Camera for older campers.

Can I bring a backpack?
Campers are only in the space parent’s see for check-in and check-out. Camp takes place on Zoo Grounds and campers must be able to carry everything themselves. Cubbies are available for children to store items they don’t want to carry in the Zoo. Please do not bring any personal electronics, such as tablets or gaming systems as these items could be lost.  Houston Zoo is not responsible for any personal electronic devices brought.

Does my child need to wear their camp shirt every day?
Yes, a camp t-shirt must be worn each day of Camp Zoofari. Camp shirts are not included in the cost of winter camp.  You may wear a shirt from 2016/2017 or purchase a new shirt at the time of registration for $10 apiece. Sizes are Youth XS (2-4), S (6-8), M (10-12), L (14-16), and Adult S, M, and L. If you are unsure of what size to order, please order a size larger to allow room for your camper to grow.

What do you do in the event of severe weather?
If Houston Zoo is open, Camp Zoofari is operating. To determine if camp is in session, please visit the Houston Zoo main page. Any closings will be announced on the homepage of our website. Closings will also be communicated via the Houston Zoo Facebook page.

What are the camp rules?

  1. Listen and follow instructions
  2. Participate in camp activities
  3. Respect others
  4. Respect property
  5. Have fun!

Should a camper forget the camp rules, one of our Camp Guides will remind them of the camp rules. If the behavior continues, the camper will be removed and parents called to speak to them. In the event improvement is not realized after a phone call, the camper shall be sent home for the remainder of the day. A return to camp the following day will be at our discretion. Refunds are not provided for campers sent home for failing to follow the rules.